Euro Gunner Watch: Reviewing the Round 2 Fixtures of the Group of Death
In the first round of fixtures of the Group of Death, jaws were dropped when Denmark pulled up a shock win over tournament favorites, Holland, but no eyebrows were raised when the efficient German Machines eased past Portugal.
Denmark and Portugal have had their fair share of battle as both sides locked horns during the qualifying campaign.
Portugal broke the deadlock through a Pepe header. Cristiano Ronaldo left his shooting boots in Spain and he showcased his profligacy in grand style. The Portuguese doubled their advantage when Helder Postiga latched unto a Nani cross to smash the roof of the net.
Christian Eriksen fired a shot from quite some distance but Rui Patricio was equal to the challenge. Nicklas Bendtner spread play to the right and after some intricate play, the ball was lofted to Michael Krohn-Delhi who flicked the ball to Bendtner that headed it home.
With 10 minutes left to play, Bendtner got on the end of another cross that went past the keeper to level the contest.
Right at the death, Fabio Coentrao made a slalom run on the left before drilling a cross that was miscued by Varela, but he got a second bite of the cherry to win the game for Portugal.
The sucker punch must have hurt Denmark but that’s football.
Euro Gunner Watch hands a rating of 8.5 to Nicklas Bendtner for his commanding performance against Portugal. He scored two well-taken headers and his distribution was top-notch.
Portugal’s win threw the group open and the Netherlands needed a win to make the final round of fixtures mouthwatering.
Veteran Mark van Bommel dinked a diagonal ball to Robin van Persie. The Dutch forward took the effort first time but it was easy pickings for Manuel Neuer.
Van Bommel almost gifted Mesut Ozil a chance but the maestro’s shot hit the post. Van Persie received a pass from Arjen Robben but his shot went wide.
Germany went ahead when Bastian Schweinsteiger found Mario Gomez with a nice through ball. The Bayern forward took the ball on the turn with an exquisite touch before applying a lovely finish that sent Maarten Sketelenberg the wrong way.
Germany almost doubled their lead when Holger Badstuber’s close-range header was saved by the goalie. However, Schweinsteiger and Gomez combined again to score Germany’s second goal with an emphatic finish.
Holland showed their positive attacking intent by bringing on Rafael van der Vaart and Klass-Jan Huntelaar at the start of the second half.
Mats Hummels waltzed forward from his defense and found himself on the clear but the goalie saved his efforts on goal.
Van Persie and Wesley Sneijder continued to pepper the German goal but Holland’s breakthrough arrived when van Persie turned superbly before firing a shot past Neuer with his chocolate leg.
Late on, van der Vaart tried a long-range effort but it missed by a lick of paint.
The loss puts Holland’s qualifying hopes on a very thin thread and they’ll have to win Portugal with two or more goals and hope for the Germans to do them a favor against Denmark.
Euro Gunner Watch gives a rating of 7.0 to Lukas Podolski and 7.5 to Robin van Persie.
That’s today’s lot.
Wishing all my fellow Batch B Youth Corps Members a happy Passing out Parade.
It was a year well spent.
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